Nick McQuilkin, a senior majoring in Agricultural Studies from Union, Iowa, was one of the six members of the 2019 Rural Entrepreneurship Academy. McQuilkin is currently working to launch his own custom baling business in Northeast Iowa, with the hope that it will create a steady stream of income for his community. Along with interning for Cargill over the summer, this busy entrepreneur also lined up financing, developed customer contracts, and explored how to build his hay operation.
Participating in the Rural Entrepreneurship Academy benefited McQuilkin by giving him the encouragement to step out of his comfort zone. Each Saturday, he had the opportunity to speak on the phone with a group of individuals who were just as passionate about their goals as he was. He also strove to make a new connection each week with different individuals in the forage industry who could provide guidance and mentorship.
McQuilkin had the opportunity to fly to Montrose, Colorado where he spent two weeks with the Colorado Alpine Hay Company. While job shadowing, he was amazed to witness the level of detail that goes into establishing a successful forage operation. “I learned so much about what thinking outside of the box can do,” recounted McQuilkin. “You can produce a high quality product with below average means, which ultimately means reduced inputs like machinery.” His favorite part of the trip was being fully immersed in the experience. “Being elevated 8,000 feet in the Rockies was definitely out of my element, but it’s something I’ll never forget,” he exclaimed.
“I was given a great opportunity when I participated in the Rural Entrepreneurship Academy, and I cannot wait to see what the future brings,” concluded McQuilkin.